Monday, July 25, 2011

From the Cross

In earlier posts I've shared some scripture related artworks, some done by myself and others done by my friend Chris.

Now my wife has put paint to canvas. This is the first she did. She is now painting a series based on Jesus' words from the cross.

And a work in progress (to be replaced by completed painting when ready)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Friday, July 15, 2011

Christian Witness from a Masterchef.

Sorry Tim Costello and Bill Crews (Baptist “ministers”) if the report at the following link is correct you have exposed yourselves as counterfeits.

Unlike Masterchef contestant Kate Bracks who stood her ground and refused to acknowledge the Dalai Llama as “Your Holiness”.

Kate has been a family favourite on the show since we found she was almost a local (from Orange NSW) – this revelation of her Christian faith makes her doubly a favourite.

We'll be praying for you Kate, and if you win Masterchef we'll definitely be buying your cookbook.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Sound Doctrine: A Biblical Imperative

Sound Doctrine: A Biblical Imperative
by Fred London

We have all heard at one time or another the declaration from a fellow believer, “I don’t get into doctrine!” This is usually taken to mean that doctrine is relatively unimportant when compared to the pursuit of unity within the Body of Christ. On the surface this has the appearance of legitimate spirituality, a God-given mandate beyond dispute. But, are we commanded to have unity at all costs, even at the expense of sound doctrine? Is the depreciation of sound doctrine acceptable in the light of God’s word?

Let us be clear at the outset that we are not speaking of relatively minor doctrinal points; issues over which true men of God have disagreed for centuries, and to our shame have provided the basis for the various denominations which now exist. Nor are we speaking of such issues on a par with hair length which Paul addressed in I Corinthians, Chapter 11, and yet after making his case was unwilling to split a church over it. It is not the minor points that concern us here. It is not legalism that we are embracing. It is the apprehension of the Mind of Christ, a fuller and more accurate expression of His thoughts and His ways in accordance with His purposes.

Likewise, there is the concern that an excessive desire for unity in the Church has taken on subtle forms characteristic of ecumenicalism, while others have elevated spiritual experience over Scriptural basis. Therefore, it is worth taking a closer look at God’s thought on this matter because the Scriptural fact is, doctrine does matter, and first and foremost, it matters to God.

As one man has argued, “It is better to be divided by truth than united in error.” Paul had this to say to the Corinthians, “For there must also be factions among you, in order that those who are approved may have become evident among you” (I Cor. 11:19). Yes, contrary to popular belief, there actually can be divisions according to the will of God. We are continually reminded of Jesus’ words, “that they may be one, just as we are one” (John 17:22b).

However, what is generally overlooked is the critical phrase, “just as We are one.” Our oneness is predicated upon the same characteristics of oneness as the Father and the Son. In fact, the entire passage which envelopes the preceding phrase speaks of a relationship based upon truth and love, for both ingredients are inseparable. That is why Paul wrote, we are to “speak the truth in love.” And that is why Jesus prayed to the Father to “Sanctify them in the truth; Thy word is truth; And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.”

The familiar saying, “You are what you eat,” is consistent with Scripture. Since, “as a man thinks in his heart, so is he,” and, “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks,” then what we consume doctrinally will have a direct impact upon who and what we are and in how we express what we believe.

What is meant by sound doctrine? We know that doctrine refers to teaching. It is the term, “sound,” that is so critical to our understanding. In this context, “sound,” means to be healthy, free from defect, damage, or decay, safe, stable. This definition is also indicative of the fruits of sound doctrine. Peter expressed it in this way; “like newborn babes, long for the pure (unadulterated) milk of the word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation” (I Pet. 2:2). The writer to the Hebrews exhorted them to “not be carried away by varied and strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace...” (Heb. 13:9a).

Paul admonished us that we “should no longer be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine... but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ” (Eph. 4:14a, 15). Paul went so far as to say to the Galatians, “... if any man should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:9). Try telling Paul that doctrine doesn’t matter.

What is the hallmark of sound doctrine? Paul wrote to the Corinthians that the essence and sum total of his teaching all boiled down to this; “Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” Is this overly simplistic? No, it is the beginning and the end of all doctrinal truth, for “He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life,” and, “from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.” That is why what is commonly referred to as The Book of Revelation should more accurately be referred to as The Revelation of Jesus Christ. It is more than just a prophetically oriented book of futuristic events, but rather a book which for many of us redefines what prophecy in reality should be.

In fact, God has revealed in this very book His definition of prophecy where he says, “for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (Rev. 19:10c). God furthermore reveals to us that His Son’s name is called “The Word of God” (Rev. 19:13b). And if this be so, it is incumbent upon us, and in particular teachers of the word, to “handle accurately the word of truth” (II Tim. 2:15b). We therefore need to be very clear on this point, that an accurate representation of Christ cannot be apprehended apart from the promulgation of sound doctrine.

Make no mistake, God expresses grief and anger when we misrepresent His Son and His purposes as is so often cited in His word. This is not in reference to the innocent trespass of a lack of understanding due to the reality of “looking through a glass darkly,” but rather due to impure motives of the heart. The Old Testament not only speaks of severe judgment upon false prophets, but also placed equal culpability upon those who would hearken to them. The New Testament also warns of false prophets and teachers. Even genuine believers are told, “Let not many of you become teachers..., knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment” (Jas. 3:1). Why this sober warning? Because doctrine does matter.

However, in the New Testament the majority of warnings are to the hearer as opposed to those of the perpetrator, for since we have access to the Spirit of truth, we are ultimately without excuse. Paul forewarns, “for the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate to themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths” (II Tim. 4:3-4).
And again, Timothy is exhorted to “Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me...” (II Tim. 1:13a). “But the spirit explicitly says that in the later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,... In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following "(I Tim. 4:1, 6).

Furthermore, one of the chief qualifications for leadership in the Church is that of a man, “holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, that he may be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict” (Titus 1:9). One of the strongest forewarnings is given by Peter when he declares, “but false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies..., And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words” (II Pet. 2:1-3a).

Do you see the common thread of culpability among the hearers? Phrases as, “but wanting to have their ears tickled, teachers in accordance to their own desires,” and, “will follow their sensuality". Deception begins with an act of the will, and as such, it is we who allow ourselves to be enticed by teachers and teachings who appeal to our flesh and soul, and not to our spirit.

What is deceptive is the subtleties by which we are ensnared. There does seem to be common ingredients contained within much of our popular, but spiritually tainted teaching of our day. If we look very closely, we would be able to detect one or all of these characteristics spelled out by John in his first letter, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world” (I John 2:16).

If we were to apply this litmus test to what we hear, we would soon come to discover what large amounts of doctrinal leaven are hidden within so much of our present-day teachings. Paul expressed the same concern in the strongest of terms and defined false teaching in similar fashion when he wrote, “for many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the Cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose God is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things” (Phil. 3:18-19).

There is no clearer evidence as to Christ’s own zeal for sound doctrine as is revealed in this strong admonition to the Church in Pergamum; “but I have a few things against you, because you have their some who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit acts of immorality. Thus you also have some who in the same way hold to the teaching of the Nicolatians. Repent therefore; or else I am coming to you quickly, and will make war against them with the sword of My mouth” (Rev. 2:14-16).

Christ is quite jealous in regard to His testimony, and especially towards those who presume to speak on His behalf. Sound doctrine is imperative because it is the primary vehicle through which Christ is revealed to us and how He is represented to the world. God longs for us to see His Son as he truly is, and that we might manifest the true Christ, and not another, that we might preach the true Christ, and not another.

Jesus asked Peter this question, “Who do men say that the Son of Man is?” It is as apparent now as it was then that men perceive and represent Him as being many things. The real question for us is the follow-up question asked of Peter, “But who do you say that I am?” The correct response compelled Jesus to reply, “Blessed are you...
Fred London

Monday, July 11, 2011

Important Lessons Learned

Some very important things I have learned:

Don't to rely too much on man's teachings and don't put too much trust in man's testimony.

No matter how "right" man's words may seem, no matter how appealing they may be, no matter how much they make sense, no matter how well they may "work":

Test all things.

Search the scriptures.

Trust God and His word not man and his word.